By George OkohÂ inÂ Makurdi
The Nigeria Defence Headquarters has launched a new offensive known as operation whirls stroke to flush out criminal gangs responsible for the killings in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara states
In a press briefing at the Tactical Air Command, Nigeria Air Force, MakurdiÂ on Friday, the Acting Director, Defence Information, Brigadier General John Agim said the operation Whirls Stroke was established to take care of security challenges in Benue, Taraba. Nasarawa and Zamfara states following spates of reported killings and clashes between farmers and herdsmen.
He said the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin in consultation with service chiefs and commanders of other security agencies re-strategised and constituted the operation to ensure peace and security of lives and properties in the affected states returned back to normal.
“On the 8 of May 2018 the Operation started in earnest and deployed in all the flash points in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states. It will subsequently be deployed in Zamfara state; however, aerial reconnaissance is being carried out on daily basis in Zamfara state as well as other states under this operation. Operation Whirl Stroke is a full-scale military operation in collaboration with other security agencies to completely restore law, order, peace and stability in the affected communities. In addition, Operation Whirls Stroke will ensure that all the people in the affected areas go about their lawful duties without fear of molestation from any quarters,” he stated.Â
He said the operation had so far recorded some successes.Â
According to him, in “Benue State, the following achievements have been recorded within the period of the operation. The troops raided a local militia camp at Tse Utime Unudu in Mbawa Council Ward of Guma LGA of Benue State. During the raid, one armed militia was killed 6 others were arrested while 2 AK 47 rifles, 14 rounds of 62 MM (special) ammunition and 34 rounds of 762MM (NATO) were recovered from the assailants”
He said the suspects and items were in the custody of the military for further investigation. Â
He further explained that Ada Kajo James and Tikaa Omen Desmond both close associates ofÂ MondayÂ Terwase popularly known as ‘Gana, the most dreaded militia in Benue State were arrested.Â
Both suspects, he continued, were arrested in connection with their involvement in the financing and provision of information to Gana and his syndicate, “The suspects are in the custody of the State Security Services for further investigation.” Â
Ajim also disclosed that On 10 May, at aboutÂ 9pm, troops from Operation Whirl Stroke engaged herdsmen who attacked its troops as they were about crossing River Benue at Azege village in Logo LGA of Benue State heading towards Mbajimba village in Guma LGA. He added that the same herdsmen were believed to have carried out the attack in Takum LGA Taraba Stale before they moved to this location. Â
He said troops were deployed to the affected villages in Ayilamo and Uzer villages in Logo LGA of Benue State and there is a gradual return of villagers to their villages due to presence of security agencies within the LGA.Â
The defence spokesman stated that information indicated that about 400 residents of Ayilamo village and about 200 residents of Uzer village had returned; out of about 1,500 and 1,000 residents, respectively who fled the villages in January, 2018, due to increased level of attacks by the suspected herdsmen.Â
“ln Ugya village of Toto LGA of Nasarawa State, troops engaged the militias and carried out a pursuit, and discovered their camp and destroyed it. Three militias were killed. Items recovered include 1 Mark4 rifle, five dane guns, 1 locally made pistol, two Mark 4 rifle magazines, two AK47 magazines 530 5.56 NATO rounds of ammunition, 127 rounds of 7 62mm special ammunition, 20 Mark 4 ammunition, six rounds of 9mm ammunition, five machetes, one axe, 41 catridges, one locally made revolver mechanism, one mobile phone, charms, herbal medicines,” he narrated.
He said over 140 herdsmen had so far been arrested and were being prosecuted since the crises started.Â
In his remark, the Whirl stroke Operational Force Commander, Major General Adeyemi Yekini stated that the operation was the first of its kind in the country even as he vowed to successfully clear all the affected areas of criminal elements.
He said the operation was in collaboration with special forces of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, DSS and the Civil Defence.
Â He solicited for the cooperation of opinion leaders and everybody within the affected states and communities to give workable intelligence in order to permanently crush evil people from among Nigerians.